P: Poems, Prayer and Promises (apologies to the late John Denver :))

Poems: I used to write poetry way more than I did prose. I think it’s a teenage thing, when you’re all full of angst and you write what is usually bad poetry to vent to the world to show off your “pain” that no one understands (and of course, your budding genius). Now, I’m more comfortable with haiku and micropoetry of various styles.  I have a minimalist streak that is happiest writing short-form anything. Occasionally I branch out (and there are a couple of longer-form poems on my writing site, De Mon Esprit!)

Prayer: There’s a new journal in my life — I pray for people when I run into them in RL or online and they ask, but I also pray for people when God brings them to mind.  I love a story I once read, where C.S. Lewis talks about how he was planning a haircut, then decided he wasn’t going to bother, but kept being nagged by the feeling that he really should anyway.  He gave in and finally went to the barber shop.  The barber gasped and told him, “I’ve been praying all day that you’d come.” He needed to talk to Lewis and ask for prayer (as I recall).  When the Lord really brings someone to your mind, often it’s a prompt to pray for them. My intention is to keep track of things in the journal so someone I promised to pray for won’t get lost in my frequently unreliable memory.

Promises: They’re important to me — I want to keep the ones I’ve made.  Sometimes that’s easier than at other times.

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Try a little “k”indness…

I am often dismayed at the anger and self-interest which seem to guide a majority of the people I encounter.  Whether it’s the person who deliberately speeds up to block me from changing lanes to the people who seem incapable of rational and courteous interaction on the Internet, simple kindness seems to be in short supply these days.

Some of it appears to stem from entitlement — the “I’m the most important person here and you WILL pay attention to me” attitude.  Some of it comes out of the absolute disregard for the feelings and worth of the people around you (I guess it could be said that that’s a natural part of entitlement, too).  I realize politics brings out the worst in people these days,  but I’ve made comments on political posts or stories that should have prompted debate — angry debate, maybe — but instead provoked ad hominum insults about me.  Not the candidate or topic.  Me as the commenter.

I’d love to tell you I’m perfect, but I know better (and you do, too) 🙂  Still, I’m thankful that the Lord has made enough of an inroads to my heart that I am at least able to restrain the impulse to unkindness on those occasions it arises.

The one thing that’s happened to me fairly recently was an incident where a prescription for one of my husband’s medications was messed up. It was probably the most important of those he takes and I was frazzled to begin with.  Still, with the help of the Lord, I kept my cool and waited patiently until the situation was resolved.  During my wait, I saw customers come to the pharmacy and yell, snap, argue and otherwise display their anger, when all that was called for was an attempt at courteous conversation which would have gotten their individual situations handled just as well. When they called me back to the counter to pick up the meds and pay, the pharmacist thanked me for being patient.

At work, we have a time during the weekly departmental meeting when we each have an opportunity to publicly acknowledge a co-worker who went above and beyond.  After one session of this where few of the items was truly “above and beyond”, one of our managers said that while he appreciated all we did, he wasn’t going to thank people who were just doing what they were paid to do.  I thought of that when the pharmacist thanked me. That was nice of her, but I remember  a time when it was the norm, not the exception.  It’s pretty sad when common decency is rare enough to be thanked.

I thought perhaps you’d enjoy this song by Glen Campbell on this very subject!

A celebration of Dragons!

“She did not like the way he looked, and she turned her mind to the unlikely tale of dragons, picking her way around the luxurious pumpkin vines. ‘Charles, when did you see these — dragons?’

‘A dollop of dragons, a drove of dragons, a drive of dragons…'”

A Wind in the Door, Madeleine L’Engle

“Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus” / “Never tickle a sleeping dragon”

Hogwarts Coat of Arms

I was introduced to the concept of dragons by the L’Engle book when I was in my late childhood — and of course there was Smaug in “The Hobbit” — but it wasn’t until the day I met Temeraire in Naomi Novik’s books that I really fell in love with them.

(c) Anke Eissman

Temeraire

Temeraire — if you’ve never had the pleasure of meeting him — is a Chinese Imperial dragon, of a breed reserved only for the emperors of China.  He was captured by the British while still an egg in a battle with a French ship transporting him … well, I won’t say any more right now because we don’t find out until much later who Temeraire (not only the name of a famous sailing ship, but also the nickname of the Dukes of Burgundy — ‘temeraire’ in French means ‘bold; fearless to the point of recklessness’) was meant for.

If you’re saying, “British? French? Ship?  What kind of fantasy is this?” I need to explain.  The Temeraire books are not fantasy, but rather alternative history.  In this universe, dragons are intellgent beings who are used by the armies of the world as an Air Corps.  Only the Chinese, as we find out later, see them as more than that.  The books are set during the Napoleonic Wars and follow “real” history only as it suits them.

The dragons here attach themselves to a captain as soon as they are hatched. The aviators consider being bonded with a dragon to be as emotionally satisfying as marriage and the dragons — well, they regard their captains as more important than anything else. Temeraire himself nearly causes a disaster early on when he thinks that his captain, one William Lawrence, who was the captain of the British Navy vessel who captured his egg, is about to fall off Temeraire to his death.

We meet many other dragons — Temeraire’s formation mates Maximus and Lily, the sweet but not terribly bright courier Volly (“I was hatched! From an egg!), the impetuous firebreather Iskierka and the invidious Lien, among others.  Novik does a great job of creating her dragons with distinct personalities, and I fell in love with Temeraire almost from the beginning.

So let’s celebrate dragons today! (And I need to remember, being of Welsh ancestry, that the dragon is our national symbol! Cymru Am Byth!)

Temeraire books:

  • His Majesty’s Dragon
  • Throne of Jade
  • Black Powder War
  • Empire of Ivory
  • Victory of Eagles
  • Tongues of Serpents
  • Crucible of Gold (just released)

A new post wherein I share thoughts on Cowardice of the emotional variety

I love someone very much.

If you have read my blog before this, you may know that already, in which case, you’re one up on the man I love.

It’s hard to understand why we will share almost anything about ourselves — tastes in food, what we did last night, our political/religious/sexual or other leanings — but we can’t share the good stuff, unless we’re completely sure about the person we’re sharing to. Or of course, it’s a disinterested third party that we have a reasonable trust towards.  Like you, dear reader. 🙂

I know in my case, it’s a desire to preserve the status quo. Unsatisfying as this remote-control friendship is, it’s better than completely losing touch, and I’m terrified that if I told him how I feel, he’d dash away (as I have said before) like a gazelle scenting a lion. This way, I can at least love him from a distance. Odd as it may seem, loving him is a comfort when the other parts of my life fall apart.

Still, one day I hope I will stop being a coward and tell him… Just don’t count on it.

And we’re off! (with some musing about Agape)

Today is Palm Sunday — the commemoration of the day the Gospels tell us that Jesus triumphantly entered the city of Jerusalem
(in the face of the temple officials looking for him, and not in a good way). 

It’s usually considered a celebration. But today I thought hard about how Jesus knew the depth of that celebration; that the people who were shouting “Hosanna” would be shouting “Crucify Him!” not even a week later.

I think those of us who have been Christians for a long time tend to have heard the details of Easter, Christmas, etc., so often that we stop really listening to them. We say that God loves and He sent His Son to die for us. However, I wonder if we ever really understand what that means.  It’s more than even the punishment He suffered before the Sanhedrin, before Pilate and on His way up to Golgotha.  It’s more than the physical punishment on the Cross.

First, there was the separation between the Father and Son to be endured.  People sometimes speak of how someone else is “a part of them”.  With the Trinity this was literally true — and that unity was shattered when Christ bore our sins in expiation.  I don’t think any human in this life is capable of understanding that pain; our deepest griefs are but shadows of it.

Second, we are quick to say that Christ came to earth to live among humans.  Again, I think we parrot this line without realizing what it means. I think C. S. Lewis put it best: “The difference between Einstein and an amoeba is nothing compared is nothing compared to the ontological gulf between us (as dependent creatures) and our eternal self-existent Creator.”  We can’t really understand what Jesus gave up to move from Creator to created.  Yet he did it, because He loved us.

The next time someone glibly rattles off John 3:16 to you or around you, stop for a moment and think about those things, about what the agape love of the Father asked of the Son, and how it was willingly given — for you.  The cost was great, but His love for you was greater.

Tell you the story of who I am …

Here’s the second half of the #100factsaboutme meme from Twitter.  Know you’ve been dying to read the rest! 🙂

51.            The closest I’ve come to shuffling off this mortal coil was reacting to penicillin when I was seven years old.  I went into anaphylactic shock and “died”.  They brought me back. (I’m not supposed to know that, but I saw the medical records – and I remember how it felt).

52.            I also fell through the lower half (glass) of a storm door. Fortunately the glass shattered so I didn’t get hurt.

53.            I’m a type-2 diabetic.  Hoping that will change as I get in better shape, but not sure it will. My birth dad is a diabetic and he’s in pretty good shape. Runs in the family.

54.            Between the ages of 10 and 12, I believed implicitly in the power of half-birthdays.  Was sure I would attain some super power when my half-birthday rolled around.  Yep.  I was a weird little kid.

55.            By the way, no super powers.  Just in case you were wondering.

56.            My favorite month is October … I’m one of Ray Bradbury’s Autumn people, no doubt.

57.           I don’t have a single favorite color; I prefer jewel tones, though – Amethyst, Ruby Red (dark) and Sapphire Blue.

58.            Besides writing, I like to draw.

59.            My favorite classes at school (Lakeland, when I got my graphic design degree) were Life Drawing and Art Drawing.

60.          I also loved photography.

61.          When I was at Lakeland, I entered the Lake County Communicators Apex Awards.  I won a Gold award in Photography. The photo is on my Facebook profile.

62.          I had a pony (almost horse-sized) when I was growing up. Her name was Heidi.  I didn’t name her – just want that on the record.

63.          I ride Western – could never get the hang of the English saddle. I know – shame on me.

64.          Love to roller skate and ice skate, although I haven’t done either in ages.  I think my insurance covers broken bones, so I may give it a try again. 🙂

65.          I seem to have lost the ability to run, oddly enough.

66.          Want to also try riding a bike again.

67.          The one thing I absolutely refuse to do as I get older is be afraid. My mother-in-law has a friend who refuses to eat at a particularly good restaurant because she’s afraid to drive up a small grade.

68.          That “not being afraid” thing doesn’t extend to riding a skateboard.  I couldn’t even do that when I was younger.

69.          I probably have a favorite author, but I love so many books, I don’t know how I’d ever pick just one.

70.          Crocheting comes easily to me. I’ve made an afghan, vests, scarves and things like that.

71.          I can’t knit.

72.          But I do quilt.

73.          Although I hate cutting out all the little pieces.  I don’t mind sewing a quilt and I’d probably make more if I could find someone to do the cutting.

74.          I’d rather cook for myself than go out to eat. Even if someone else is paying.

75.          I was briefly a police dispatcher.  Only I don’t do midnight shifts well.  I’m strictly diurnal.

76.          Also worked in the newsroom of the local ABC affiliate, doing computer support and maintaining the morgue.

77.          Not THAT kind of morgue – I was in charge of storing scripts for future reference.

78.          The longest I’ve held a job continuously was 7 years.

79.          I’m really proud that my adopted dad was a TEC4 in the Signal Corps in WWII (European Theatre of Operations). That’s where my handle/netnic/callsign comes from.

80.          I’m also proud that my birth father has been instrumental in conserving a large part of his native state as a national park.  He’d be the first to say that he didn’t do it alone, but I’m still very proud of him.

81.          I wanted to be President once.  Sorry.

82.          Went through a stretch where I thought I wanted to be a cop.

83.          When I was at Kent State in the 70s, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer.

84.          Now, I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.  If I ever do.

85.          I used to sing in the choir/praise team of the church I formerly attended.

86.          Collected stamps once.

87.          I was a Girl Scout from Brownies all the way to Cadettes.

88.          Once I had a crush on Donny Osmond.  That explains why I like purple.

89.          I am also a Cleveland Browns fan.

90.          Not much of a Cavs fan. Liked to play basketball, but not interested in watching.

91.          Have used and will use both PCs and Macs.  I think the rivalry is silly.

92.          Also use both Facebook (Janet Lingel Aldrich) and Twitter (@TEC4_Cleveland).  Similarly silly rivalry.

93.          I design web pages &  have three blogs and a website.

94.          I think Pierre Jalbert should be in the Canadian Ski Museum/Hall of Fame and would mount a campaign on his behalf if he’d let me.

95.          My recent bout of writing is the first I’ve done (outside of high school) since the 1980s.

96.          I usually don’t drink on account of being a diabetic.

97.          Like wine, but while I like the smell of beer, I don’t like how it tastes.

98.          I found my favorite Web acquaintance (whom I’ve never actually met) because I was searching for something else and he came up.

99.          My favorite current Hab is Tomas Plekanec. (No! I’ll bet you had no idea!)

100.       I want to live in Montreal some day.

I am just a poor (girl) though my story’s seldom told …

There’s been this #100factsaboutme hashtag that’s been trending on and off in Twitter. I started to them online one night and got to about 20 and gave up. Then my Tweep @Tygerlylly did hers in her blog and I decided to follow suit. Without further ado, here’s part one (1-50) facts about me. I’ll put the others up later! 🙂

1. My legal name is Janet Marie Lingel Aldrich.

2. I’m adopted.

3. I didn’t find out I was adopted until both my adoptive parents had passed away.

4. My birth name was Beth Williams.

5. I’ve met my birth father. He’s a retired college professor.

6. My birth mom never told her family I existed, so we have no contact.

7. I have an adopted sister, three half-sisters and a half-brother. Have never met any of the “halfs”.

8. Growing up, I thought I was Irish-German, but after I discovered my birth parents, I found out I’m mostly Welsh, with some Scots, English, Norman and German. No Irish, AFAIK.

9. I’m the great-great-granddaughter of a Confederate cavalry officer. Not sure how I feel about that.

10. I’m also the great-great-grandniece of some of Quantrill’s Raiders. Definitely not sure how I feel about that.

11. I’ve lived my whole life in Northeast Ohio; born in Akron, lived in Brimfield, moved to Cleveland and now live in Euclid. (sorry, couldn’t find a “D” town to move to in order to make that perfect)

12. In 8th grade I was the Portage County Spelling Bee champ.

13. I went to the State Science Fair twice in high school.

14. Graduated from high school a year early and was in college the last year I was in high school. I have no idea now why I did this.

15. I grew up on what amounted to a small farm.

16. We grew about an acre’s worth of garden every summer from the first I can remember until my dad passed away when I was 21.

17. My first (unofficial) job was selling the vegetables we grew. Good training for doing computer support. Especially when it comes to answering stupid questions. “Is this corn grown here?” – asked standing five feet in front of the corn field where the corn was picked.

18. I love the smell of cut grass and hay.

19. I’m an evangelical Christian, although I grew up Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

20. I learned a little German growing up, took Spanish in HS, Russian in college & have taught myself some Irish, ASL & French (mostly Quebecois, but I’ve learned some Cajun French, too)

21. My hair (on its own) has by turns been blonde, ash blonde, ash brown, brown, chestnut and auburn – and is heading for silver. Sigh.

22. My eyes change color depending on what I wear. Basically they’re grey-green, although as a little girl, they were blue. Go figure.

23. The first car I “owned” was a black Pontiac Fiero. Loved that car.

24. I love hockey and the Montreal Canadiens, dating back to the Guy LaFleur days.

25. I was a Cleveland Barons fan, but they left town. I don’t take rejection (by sports teams) well.

26. I wanted to play shortstop for the Cleveland Indians growing up.

27. My favorite player then was Frank Duffy.

28. I love to read, and have been known to read dictionaries if nothing else is available.

29. I write poetry. Have written a lot of haiku lately.

30. I write stories of varying lengths … from twitfic to chaptered fiction.

31. I have two novels and a novella in process.

32. To finish one of the novels, I need to take a trip to Acadian Louisiana. And stay for a while.

33. I like to walk for exercise.

34. I have a paralegal certificate, though I don’t use it now

35. I worked for 20 years in IT — support, installation, troubleshooting, programming and training.

36. Almost everything I know about computers I learned on the job.

37. I read the Lord of the Rings, the first 3 books of the Dune series and the Chronicles of Narnia once a year every year (since I was about 15). Will probably add the Harry Potter and Temeraire books to that.

38. I like to cross-country ski.

39. Considering how much I admire Pierre Jalbert, I wish could downhill ski — but me & downhill & any kind of speed don’t mix. Plus I wrecked my knee the one and only time I tried.

40. I have a secret (or not so secret) desire to learn to fence sabre.

41. When I meet people in RL, I probably surprise them because I’m pretty quiet, compared how much I talk online.

42. My sense of humor runs to puns, wordplay and the ridiculous – but my favorite Marx Brother is Harpo Marx, not Groucho or Chico.

43. Like Harpo, I tend to believe in people until I’m proven wrong, and even then I give them the benefit of the doubt.

44. People matter a lot to me, and I get burned because I usually care more than they do.

45. I love music – all kinds.

46. Well, almost all kinds. Not much into rap or heavy metal. Other than that, though …

47. My absolute favorite popular group is U2. Fell in love with them almost from the beginning.

48. I adore Cajun music. My favorite Cajun act is D. L. Menard.

49. The best I can do with Christian music is narrow it down to three people/groups: Newsboys, Fernando Ortega and Michael Card.

50. Also adore Josh Groban.